Artist Spotlight: Jay Electronica

“He looks kinda like he’s a alien from somewhere really. But in a rare beautiful way, like some kind of mythical creature who would have a bow and arrow on his back and wings under that bow and arrow.” – Erykah Badu

It’s not often one of those MCs come around that really hits you with every line – but Jay Electronica is one of them. Badu’s right; he’s a weird looking cat with an interesting story, and better yet, his rhymes are just as unique. He’s been around for a while, but is someone who could easily have gone unnoticed or under appreciated.

Reigning from New Orleans, he started to hop around, homeless, from city to city managing to get close with the likes of Dilla, Just Blaze and Badu. In 2010, not long after his release of Exhibit C, none other than Jay-z signed him to the ROC, adding to his repertoire of J’s. Even more surprisingly (or maybe not if you believe in the Illuminati), a few years later, he had an affair with Kate Rothschild, and now lives in London as her boyfriend. Anyways, back to the topic. Everyone thought Jay Electronica was going to fall off after “Control” dropped and hardly anyone listened to anything other than Kendrick’s verse. But after just two releases, he’s right back in the spotlight – and with the aid of Jay-Z’s Drake diss on the “We Made It” (remix), it looks like he might finally blow up. So before he does, I wanted to make sure people didn’t miss out on what the early Jay Electronica is about.

In case you haven’t heard any Electronica yet, here’s “Exhibit C”.

The production and concept pulls from everything – whether Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or a JFK speech. If his instrumentals and samples don’t impress, his lyrics are even more intricate. His flow can come off a bit off-putting at first, sounding very cold and calculated; but his passion undoubtedly comes through in the sheer creativity and thought behind the content.

He’s got DOOM’s clever punchlines that he integrates with intricate thoughts of religion, science, oppression, love, and even the extraterrestrial, so seamlessly that it doesn’t sound as much like he’s preaching but rather like he’s a Messiah figure himself. You’re almost forced recognize the poetic “black excellence” that comes through. And no, I don’t mean the same, in your face, grandiose raps that Kanye has been putting out. It goes far past this. Elect isn’t just another MC trying to make it big, he’s out there with Nas and Pac trying to change more than just rap.

“I’m trying to kill Lucifer
So if I have to break cause a rapper in my face tellin’ me that he’s the great
You can bet a shiny nickel I’ll blast his muthafuckin’ ass way past Jupiter.” 

Jay’s got a plan that he’s sticking to, and more importantly, it shows in his music. He’s not caught up in the game, but rather preparing to start a revolution like Pac, speaking out against the corrupt and fake, in hopes of changing things for the infinite.

Words: Jasper Pakshong